How to Make a Toy Soldier Bookend from an Upcycled G.I Joe

Ingenious Crafts. Insanely Fun How-Tos.
Repurposed action figure bookend
Hey, who put that hole there?

Get your kids excited about reading… make them a pair of unique toy soldier bookends!

It will encourage them to grow their book collection, and that’s always a good thing.

It’s also a fantastic way to upcycle an old toy figure, I used a G.I. Joe soldier, but other figures would also work…

Step by step guide

Follow the fun illustrated how-to below and make your own upcycled toy soldier bookend… it’s not too tricky!

Time to start operating…

Cut in half... ergh!
How to make an upcycled toy soldier bookend: Step 1

STEP 1: Take your old toy action figure and use a hack saw to remove a 20 mm section from the waist.

Top disc
How to make an upcycled toy soldier bookend: Step 2-6

STEP 2: Cut two wooden discs slightly bigger than the toy’s waist.

STEP 3: Find a bolt (with a nut) long enough to fit through the shelf and both wooden discs, something around 4-5 mm in diameter. Drill a hole in the centre of both discs, large enough to fit the bolt.

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STEP 4: Drill another hole halfway through each disc, large enough to fit the bolt head and nut.

STEP 5: Mix epoxy adhesive (such as Araldite) using a matchstick. Apply glue to the inside of the enlarged hole of one disc and then push the nut in.

STEP 6: Use more glue to attach the same wooden disc onto the top half of the soldier.

Bottom disc
How to make an upcycled toy soldier bookend: Step 7-10

STEP 7: Glue the bolt head into the other wooden disc.

STEP 8: Glue the disc onto the legs using more expoxy adhesive.

STEP 9: Drill a hole through the shelf big enough to fit the bolt.

STEP 10: Finally, push the bolt through, and screw on the body.

That’s it, just adjust the legs and arms and add the books!

Oh… and why not celebrate by buying your kids a new reading book they can put onto their new cool shelf?


  • Large plastic action figure
  • Sandpaper or craft knife
  • Small piece of 10 mm MDF/plywood
  • Nut and bolt 6-8 mm diameter
  • Hacksaw, jigsaw
  • Drill and drillbits
  • Epoxy adhesive

What will I learn?

1) Creating shelf space with unusual bookends is a great way to encourage your kids to read.

2) Old toys are a brilliant for quirky upcycling, before you throw them out, think what you could turn them into.

3) There’s always a way of adding a twist… such as making it look like the soldier has fallen through the shelf!

Give it your own twist

Shout out

This project first appeared on Makezine, as part of their quirky craft series.

The technique above is dependent on the type of toy figure you use.

The objective is to attach the top half of the toy figure onto the top of the shelf, and the bottom half of the figure on the underside of the shelf - so feel free to come up with your own method.

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author